Cape Town — South Africa's Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa is mourning the loss of four people from the Eastern Cape netball fraternity following the tragic accident in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The deceased were part of the OR Tambo district contingent on the way to the 2021 Spar National Championships, which started in Bellville on Monday. They were Nocamagu Mvunyiswa (coach) and three players Phelo Charles, Indiphile Mfengu and Thabisile Maxikika.
Mthethwa has asked the Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nocawe Mafu to work closely with Fezeka Nkomonye, the Eastern Cape MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture. Together they will engage the grieving families of the deceased and offer support at this time.
Mthethwa also sent condolences to Netball South Africa, the country's netball controlling body.
Mthethwa statement read: “My deepest condolences to the families of the deceased. This tragic death of these athletes is indeed a serious blow to the nation and netball, which is a fast-growing sport.
"These athletes were destined to participate in one of the tournaments that were meant to select future stars ahead of the 2023 Netball World Cup scheduled to take place in Cape Town.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones during this difficult period."
Earlier on Monday, Netball South Africa President Cecilia Molokwane remembered the deceased at the opening ceremony where she led a candlelight ceremony. She started by calling on those present to observe a minute's silence.
Apart from the participating teams, the ceremony was attended by government officials from Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Several members of the national team were present. They are presently in a training camp in Stellenbosch.
Netball South Africa informs that of the 25 people who were hospitalised on Sunday, four are still in critical condition. Several have already been released, and Netball South Africa will have more information in due course.
Netball South Africa will work closely with Eastern Cape Netball, the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture in the province, and the families of the deceased. Details about the funeral and memorial service information will be made known in due course.